Tag: social marketing
Many of the communication strategies used to prevent teen tobacco use can work for teen pregnancy prevention campaigns. But there are some very important differences between the two issues.
Both are social issues that are reinforced by social norms. And both have enormous public health consequences in addition to the negative impact on individuals. Here in Mississippi, treatment of tobacco-related diseases costs our state $264 million each year in direct medicare costs alone. By comparison, teen pregnancy costs Mississippi $154 million per year in the form of lost tax revenues, incarceration and foster care.
But it’s important to keep in mind one very important difference between teen tobacco use and teen pregnancy: The consequence of tobacco initiation is often disease and early death. The consequence of premarital sexual activity is, in many cases, a living, breathing little human being.
You can strip away the false glamor of smoking and expose cigarettes as a dangerous, addictive product. But, when it comes to teen pregnancy prevention, you have to be very careful not to devalue the human life that can result. Babies are great – just not when you’re 15. Raising a child is a wonderful and rewarding thing. But when you’re still in school? Forget it.
Getting back to the similarities, the toughest challenge for any youth-targeted prevention program is that teens have a hard time anticipating and fully appreciating future consequences. You have to portray the consequences in a way that’s real, relevant and credible to their lives. You have to get that message out and let them hear it over and over and over. Not just for one week during school.
Over the last several months, the subject of teen pregnancy has gotten a lot of attention here in Mississippi. Glad to hear it.
Mississippi has traditionally had a very high teen pregnancy rate. Currently, it’s the highest in the nation and, according to a 2008 estimate from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, it’s costing our state at least $159 million per year.
Teenage parents are more likely to forgo higher education and rely on public healthcare and child welfare programs. Their children are more likely to be incarcerated, too. It’s a heart breaking situation any way you look at it.
Our teen pregnancy rates have been declining a little. The rate has dropped about 23% since 1991. Still, there’s a long way to go. Fortunately, it seems like momentum is building for some real evidence-based strategy and intervention. Our new Governor, Phil Bryant said in his state-of-the-state address:
…the epidemic of teenage pregnancy in this state must come to an end. Churches, schools, community organizations and most importantly, families, must realize that the highest teen pregnancy rate in America will eventually cripple our state. Such a change in a societal norm is possible. Forty years ago many of you here today would be smoking during this ceremony. It was the norm and few would have noticed. Society, however, decided that smoking was harmful and a slow but certain repudiation of the habit began. A similar repudiation of teen pregnancy must begin throughout Mississippi society.”
We couldn’t agree more. In fact, as the advertising agency that helped develop Mississippi’s youth tobacco prevention and cessation strategies, this kind of talk gets our gears turning. More to come…
Since about 1998, when we were named the agency of record for Mississippi’s youth tobacco prevention and cessation campaign, a large part of our agency’s business has been devoted to social marketing. Meaning, we create campaigns that are designed to have a social impact. (more…)